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When your former player dies...

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by daytonadan1983, Jul 8, 2015.

  1. daytonadan1983

    daytonadan1983 Active Member

    Started with him as a freshman...he had a nice little NFL career and was beginning his 2nd season as a HS coach. 36, wife, 3 kids, dropped dead with a heart attack.

    So I handle the obit. F---ing awful.

    It's two week later. I'm taking time off anyway. But the thought of writing any standard football piece sickens me.

    If something like this has happened to you, how much time did you need?
  2. awriter

    awriter Active Member

    Honestly? None. Writing obits and covering funerals are part of the job.
  3. TexasVet

    TexasVet Active Member

    Sorry for your loss. It's hard to lose a friend.

    But writing is in our blood and, unfortunately, writing obits and remembrance pieces are part of it.

    Would Coach want you to feel like this or get back in the game and keep writing, and write every piece that he would be proud of! Good luck!
  4. SFIND

    SFIND Well-Known Member

    I'm with awriter. I've only had to cover funerals/deceased athletes twice. Once for a small college player that died on the operating table for a routine procedure and once for a murdered athlete. It's sad. But that's life (pardon the cliche).

    I knew both athletes realtively well, too. Both were four-year players in high school (the murdered athlete was killed during his senior year). But it really didn't affect me personally. Did my job covering their deaths, then moved on to the next story.
  5. Steak Snabler

    Steak Snabler Well-Known Member

    Yeah, unfortunately I'm used to it by now. Covered high schools for almost 15 years, and there were numerous incidents where I had write about prominent athletes that were killed in car wrecks, drowned or whatever; as well as a couple of coaches who died suddenly.

    And as the only writer in the family, I've written obits and/or delivered eulogies for my mother, grandfather, grandmother and my best friend from high school. I'm sure I'll do it for my dad too when he goes.

    It's part of the job and part of life.
  6. daytonadan1983

    daytonadan1983 Active Member

    Thanks for the input, my colleagues. Just needed to be reminded, I guess.
    Couple of things from the "in-house writer" SID side of this:
    1) Four different sites, including ProFootball Talk and Fox Sports, used our tweet as official confirmation. I'll never get used to that.
    2) Working alongside the local shops to make sure their info is right. Also telling them they can use whatever part of my story they want. That, I enjoy.
  7. One of the worst writing assignments I ever had was covering the death of a disgraced politician, whose name was (rightfully) dragged through the mud in our paper. I go to the wake, try talking to people ... Just an overall awkward experience. But alas, we are paid to write these kind of pieces.
  8. DeskMonkey1

    DeskMonkey1 Active Member

    You guys aren't wrong but please remember that Dayton is writing about an actual friend, not a source he eventually became friendly with.
  9. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    Dan, are you feeling that way because you lost your friend? Or because you can't reconcile writing about mundane stuff after handling his obit?
    If the former, I know don't know what to say other than it's going to take time. Same as any time you lose someone close. All you can do is keep on moving. It's clichéd, but true.
    If it's the latter, look at it this way: Writing his obit was your responsibility and an honor, akin to being a pallbearer. You got to tell the world about this man. Not just what he did for a living, but the kind of husband and father he was. I'm sure you took extra care with it and did a good job, and the coach would have appreciated it.
    Now, though, it's time to get back to work and let him go. You have to do it sometime.
  10. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Well-Known Member

    I've lost several friends and family members along the way. You embrace the pain, you embrace the loss. You remember them each day. And you keep writing.
  11. daytonadan1983

    daytonadan1983 Active Member

    Batman, it was an honor to handle Damion's obit and communicating with his NFL teams, the Baltimore media and our media as well.

    Fortunately, both the "I wanna get back in the game" and "I'm not sick of football anymore" feelings are starting to return, and our new Coach has been supportive.

    I've just set some ground rules for a while -- keep earphones in when ESPN's daytime lineup is on and told my brother and other folk "I don't give a damn about that jerk from the Giants or Tom Brady and really don't wanna talk about 'em until I'm watching a game in September.
    Batman likes this.
  12. DeskMonkey1

    DeskMonkey1 Active Member

    Apologies for hijacking your thread but I had to do that for my mental health, anyway, and I haven't had a (sports) colleague die. (I've has multiple in other departments die). It's like people expect you to be "at work" 24/7, and don't factor in situations like yours
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